Will I Be More Strict Than My Parents?

Social media will play a large role in our kids' lives, but are we prepared to handle it? I fear I will be more strict than my parents were when I was growing up.

dresses c/o our Mimi

Good morning, loves and a happy Tiny Tuesday to you! If you read last weeks post – I shared 9 Ways to Foster a Healthy, Confident Child – then you’re up to date on the face lift we’re giving Tiny Tuesdays. Basically, instead of strictly kids’ fashion posts, we’re going to have more “mom talk.” The girls will make an appearance from time to time, but typically we’ll be chatting about parental issues and topics. Last week we talked about how we -the parents –  can foster an environment to create a lasting confidence in our children. This week we’re starting the conversation of kids and social media.

This has actually been a heavily debated topic with my close girlfriends and my husband. I think my generation brings a relatively unique perspective to the topic of social media. As one friend pointed out to me, my generation is the only generation that was raised without social media the first half of our lives and with it the second. My generation didn’t get a cell phone until you started to drive. My generation had to call their parents from the land line when they went to a friend’s house. My generation didn’t get Facebook until they had a college email address. Crazy to think about now, right?

I remember growing up and thinking “I’ll never be as strict as my parents.” Looking back they weren’t crazy strict, they just cared a whole lot. I hated that I was the last one to get a cell phone. I hated that my parents had to call the parents of a friend before I could go to their house to play. I thought my parents were so conservative and doing a major disservice to me. Typical teenager. Fast forward to being a mom of two little girls and I’m starting to think I’ll be even more strict than they were.

I’m pretty sure every generation says “things are way worse than when I grew up,” but it feels especially true now. Social media has evolved in ways I could never have imagined. Coming from someone – a blogger – who’s job depends on social media to survive, I see and understand the benefits of social media. It’s a connecting force and is vital to most businesses. But, the more I’m learning about how kids are using social media the more I am realizing there is a lot I don’t know or don’t understand.

As of today, there are very little parental controls on social media and apps, and that scares me. Additionally, kids know a lot more than we think; they are exposed to a lot more. Working in a school I have learned how rampant sexting is in elementary school (that’s right, elementary school). I’ve realized how easy it is for them to access porn from seemingly innocent apps like music.ly. I’ve realized the level of comparison, the bullying, and body issues that arise from it.

I’m by no means saying every single child is exposed to this, but more so asking myself if I want to put my kids in a position to be exposed to all of this at such a young age. Sure, they will eventually learn what porn is and will no doubt experience comparison and body issues. But, do I want them experiencing that in 6th grade? In 5th grade? No way. Cognitively, their brains are just not developed enough to handle it and process it like an adult.

As I’ve started to process through all of this, my husband and I have talked about ways we will combat this until there are parental controls. We’ve already felt like “strict parents” by not letting our 4 year old have an iPad (for reasons I’m happy to share if you are curious), but fear that is only the beginning of our strict-ness. So the question I’m posing or topic I’m presenting to you today is how are you planning on combating social media with your children? Even if your kids are young like mine (2 and 4), it’s right around the corner for us. This is a topic we all need to be well educated about and have clear boundaries around.

I understand that there are benefits to kids having a phone such as a way to communicate after school activities. But, my husband and I don’t want our girls on social media at age 6. We’ve thrown out the idea of a flip phone for the girls and not a smart phone, but that’s all we got. What are your opinions on this topic? How are you preparing for this with your kids?